Popular Collections and Collecting Ideas: An Exhaustive List

Updated on April 6, 2018
ControlledChaos1 profile image

The only reason I don't have more antiques and collectible than the few I have now is lack of space. I can't be the only one.

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The Things People Collect Can Say A Lot About What Type Of Person They Are - A Useful Aid For Creating Characters

There are a lot of fun things to collect in this world, and this article will let you know just how many wonderfully diverse things there are that one can put up on a shelf. Don't let the fact that this article was approached from a writer's point of view; collectors will find it just as useful.

A character can be so much more interesting if they have a hobby, and one of the most popular hobbies is collecting. No matter whether someone collects something strange, odd, unique, funny or rare, it can tell readers what they care about. How far they are willing to go to protect and care for that collection will tell them even more.

Everybody collects something, even if they don't realize it. My grandfather always used to put down people who collected things until he saw a movie in which the main character collected (and used) old tools - the exact same thing my grandfather did. He could relate to that. Everyone can relate to collecting as a hobby. It's very wise to use it, even if just a little, in any story.

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The Ever Growing List Of Weird Things You Can Collect

  • Accordions
  • Adding Machines
  • Advertising Posters (Be sure to buy a quality frame as most are colorful and look great hanging on the wall.)
  • Air Fresheners (They come in all shapes, sizes and smells.)
  • Alarm Clocks (Retro alarm clocks are perfect for decorating a room. Clocks made by Westclox, New Haven, Waterbury or the Seth Thomas Clock Company are highly sought after by collectors and a good place to start.)
  • Anatomical Charts
  • Anchors (all sizes)
  • Ankhs
  • Antique Furniture
  • Antique Silver
  • Apothecary Jars (Early glass and ceramic apothecary container labels are in Latin.)
  • Aardvark Objects
  • Armor
  • Arrowheads (Keep in mind that it is illegal to take arrowheads from state parks.)
  • Arrows
  • Artist Cards, Editions and Originals (ACEOs)
  • Ashtrays (Very usable.)
  • Autographs (Always authenticate.)
  • Axes and Hatchets
  • Back Scratchers (The ones that have intricate carvings are the ones that collectors want most.)
  • Badges (law, firemen, etc.)
  • Bagpipes
  • Bakelite Jewelry
  • Banana Labels
  • Barber Chairs (These are great in living rooms.)
  • Barb Wire (Pay a visit to the Antique Barbed Wire Society if interested in starting a collection.)
  • Barn Doors (I know people who use these old doors and entry doors to living rooms.)
  • Baseball Cards (Collecting unopened packs or boxes of sports cards is popular as well, but I've never been able to resist the temptation of opening them.)
  • Beer Cans

Non-Sports Cards Are Worth Collecting Too

  • Beer Steins (My brother actually drinks from some of the metal beer steins that he has in his collection, of course they're not in mint condition.)
  • Bells (handheld and larger ones)
  • Belt Buckles (Road King buckles are my favorites.)
  • Bicycles (Knowing how to repair them is essential if you ride them.)
  • Birdbaths (Imagine a back yard full of old birdbaths-and birds)
  • Bird Houses (It's more interesting to let the birds use them.)
  • Blasting Machines (dynamite)
  • Blotter Art (A quality frame is a must for this beautiful artwork.)
  • Blow Dryers
  • Blueprints (Famous or well known building blueprints can be framed.)
  • Bonsai Trees (Older trees can be worth big bucks.)
  • Bookends (I prefer the metal ones; their better at holding lots of books.)
  • Bookmarks (Nothing like an old bookmark being used in an old book.)
  • Boogers (from the nose)
  • Boot Scrapes (Scrapes can be used and hold up quite well.)
  • Bottle Caps
  • Bowling Balls (Another collectible that can be used in most cases.)
  • Boxes (Nothing like keeping antiques in antique boxes.)
  • Boxing Gloves (If used in a popular match and signed by the boxer; you've got gold.)
  • Boy Scout Memorabilia (patches, etc.)
  • Brochures (Old brochures can be like a trip down memory lane.)
  • Bronze Statues (Most are rather large, but you can find a few smaller pieces if you look.)
  • Bullet Holes (framed) (in glass, wood, metal, etc.)
  • Bumper Stickers (Unused, of course.)
  • Burnt Food (photographed)
  • Business Cards (Collected without even realizing it.)
  • Butter Churns
  • Buttons (You can sew them onto cloth for a neat presentation.)
  • Calculators (An accountant friend of mine has a huge collection of old calculators.)
  • Calendars (Some of the older ones have amazing artwork on them.)

If You're Looking For A Few Cool Things To Collect - You Need Some Kind Of Guide - Now you just have to figure out what to collect.

If you ever need a crash course on a wide variety of collectible and what to look for when collecting them, then the PBS show Antiques Roadshow is the way to go. The premise of the show is to have people bring in old things, and experts tell them if it's worth anything. They always pick out things that are interesting. It's very informative and entertaining to watch.

  • Cameras (In most cases, all can still be used no matter the age.)
  • Candles (candlesticks, candelabras, etc.)
  • Candy Wrappers (Arrange these into a collage and frame them to create a wonderful piece of artwork.)
  • Car Antenna Balls or Toppers (Much easier to find your car in a parking lot.)
  • Carnivorous Plants (A great way to control insects.)
  • Carved Decoupage Ostrich Eggs (Some of these delicate collectibles can be quite ornate.)
  • Caskets / Coffins (Lots of room is needed for these unique collectibles.)
  • Cash Registers (Some old country stores still use old registers to add charm to a place.)
  • Cassette Tapes (Make sure you have a working cassette tape play so it won't eat your collectibles.)
  • Ceiling Tins
  • Chainsaws (an odd thing to collect, but to each their own)
  • Chainsaw Wood Carvings and Sculptures
  • Children’s Drawings (Imagine having drawings from Frank Frazetta when he was a child. That would look so cool framed beside one of his better pieces.)
  • Christmas Ornaments (We have Christmas ornaments that are over 30 years old that we still put on our tree to this very day.)
  • Cigar Boxes (Even older boxes can be used to put your cigars in.)
  • Cigarette Cases (These make for beautiful keepsake boxes.)
  • Clocks (alarm, cuckoo, etc.)
  • Clothes Hangers (Boring? Try checking out some of the hangers from the 19th and early 20th centuries and then tell me that. Some are so beautiful you won't want to hang anything on them.)
  • Coal Miners Helmets (The more ornate ones are generally more desirable by collectors.)
  • Coasters
  • Coins and Money (There are some people who only collect coins that have been in circulation. They feel used money has more history and character.)
  • Coke Merchandise (You can find Coca-Cola related antiques in almost any item you want to collect.)
  • Collectible Statues (Sideshow Collectibles, McFarlane Toys, etc.)
  • Coloring Pages (old ones)

Collecting and Investing In LEGO Toys

  • Comic Books (I have several certified and graded by CGC hanging on my wall.)
  • Compasses
  • Computers
  • Concert Posters (Try hanging your posters on the ceiling for a different look.)
  • Corbels (structural and decorative support)
  • Corkscrews (Most are still usable.)
  • Correspondence (Handwritten letters from famous people.)
  • Cracker Jack Prizes (Some of these are worth major bucks and don't take up a lot of space.)
  • Crate Labels (Framing the piece of the crate the label is on looks great hanging on a wall.)
  • Crosses (Imagine a whole wall of old crosses.)
  • Decorative Inkwells (for fountain pens)
  • Decorative Wall Plates
  • Dentistry Tools
  • Depression Glass (Bubbles were quite common in older glass, so don't get discouraged if you see some, it's a sign of age.)
  • Dice (Dice can be made out of bone, ivory, animal horn, amber and other materials.)
  • Dinosaur Bones (Digging them up yourself is even better.)
  • Dirt or Earth (from every country)
  • Display Cases (I like to use antique display cases to display my football card collection.)
  • Diving Helmets
  • Dollhouses (Really old dollhouses are often more ornate and better built than newer ones.)
  • Door Knobs (Most hold up well if you want to use them in your home.)
  • Door Knockers (Nothing like seeing an beautiful antique knocker on a house.)
  • Doors (Those that show wear and tear are just as desirable as those that don't.)

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  • Dried Flowers and Plants (A great teaching tool when framed.)
  • Drive-In Movie Theater Speakers
  • Drums
  • Duck Calls (Choosing those that sound good is a fine place to start.)
  • Dukes of Hazzard Memorabilia (Quite popular due to the flag controversy.)
  • Dust Jackets (books)
  • Ear Picks
  • Eggs (Faberge eggs are always popular to collect, but I have some carved and painted ostrich eggs that I love to show off; I've even been offered quite a bit of money for certain ones.)
  • Election Buttons (Political campaign buttons are usually made in mass quantities, but most end up in the trash after elections are over.)
  • Electric Fans
  • Exotic and Rare Fish
  • Feathers (there are some colorful ones)
  • Film Cels (35mm strips of film)
  • Fingerprint Cards
  • Finials
  • Fishing Lures (Older, hand-made lures are worth a lot of money.)
  • Flags
  • Flutes
  • Fountain Pens (The brands to look for are Waterman, Sheaffer, Parker, Conklin and Wahl-Eversharp. These were the most successful companies in the U.S.)
  • Frog Related Stuff
  • Garden Gnomes (Be careful collecting these wonderful garden decorations, or you'll soon have an army of them.)
  • Gargoyle Collectibles
  • Gas Masks
  • Gavels
  • Glass Eyes
  • Golf Balls
  • Greeting Cards (Folded greeting cards first appeared around 1910. Unused ones are the only cards most collectors are willing to pay a lot for.)
  • Guitar Picks (a cheap and unique collectible)
  • Guitars (There is really nothing like the sound of antique musical instruments; some say they even sound different.)
  • Gunfighter Pistols From Old West
  • Hair (celebrity)
  • Halloween Memorabilia
  • Hammers
  • Handcuffs

Horror Movie Posters - An Odd Thing To Collect? - Not to horror movie fans.

Although I like to collect traditional movie posters that came out at the same time of the movie, I also love to collect special limited edition illustrated posters. These posters are based upon great movies, but illustrated by some of the top artists of the day. One of my favorite companies to buy these from is from Mondo, a division of the Alamo Drafthouse chain of movie theaters.

  • Hand Well Water Pumps
  • Handwritten Letters by Famous People
  • Hangman's Noose
  • Happy Meal Toys (Complete collections from certain years seem to be more desirable. Some of the more popular collections are the 101 Dalmatians and Minions collections.)
  • Harmonicas
  • Harpoons
  • Hatpins (One way to tell a fake hat pin is if it has a stainless steel stem; stainless steel was not invented during that time.)
  • Hats
  • Hockey Sticks
  • Hood Ornaments (Also called bonnets.)
  • Houdini Memorabilia
  • Humidors (to store tobacco)
  • Hummel Figurines
  • Ice Skates
  • Insects
  • Japanese Warrior Dolls
  • Jigsaw Puzzles (Choices range from high-end, intricate, hand cut puzzles made by Par and Arteno to the usual cheaper cardboard suspects made by Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers.)
  • Journals (of famous people)
  • Juice Boxes

  • Key Chains
  • Keys
  • Kool-Aid Memorabilia
  • Lace
  • Lanterns
  • Letter Openers
  • License Plates (Popular with people who collect vintage cars.)
  • Light Bulbs
  • Limited Edition Prints (including giclees)
  • Lithographs (Signed and numbered.)
  • Locks (combination and padlock)
  • Logos (Some look so good they could be framed.)
  • Lottery Tickets (that have not been scratched off)
  • Lunchboxes (When buying lunchboxes online, ask questions. Photos are not enough. Poor lighting can hide all kinds of dents and scratches.)
  • Magazines (Ninja, Fangoria, Sports Illustrated, etc.)
  • Magnets (promotional)
  • Magnifying Glasses
  • Mandolins
  • Maps (Old maps look great framed and hanging on a wall.)
  • Marbles
  • Masks (Even old ones can be worn if you're careful with them.)

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  • Mason Jars (The colored jars are the ones that you want.)
  • Matchbooks (A collectible that could easily go up in flames if you're not careful.)
  • Mechanical Banks (Some of these banks may actually have old coins in them.)
  • Medieval Torture Devices (iron maiden, pillory, etc.)
  • Memorial Jewelry (coffin rings, etc.)
  • Memorial Cards
  • Memory Jugs (You usually won't find a maker's mark or signature on a memory jug, but they can be dated by looking at the type of adhesive used.)
  • Meteorites (Many first beginning collectors start out by buying one example of the three main meteorite groups: stones, irons and stony-irons.)
  • Microphones
  • Microscopes (Well-made microscopes, even old ones, are still useful.)
  • Microwaves
  • Milk Glass
  • Mirrors (I have a whole room devoted to antique mirrors.)
  • Model Railroads
  • Model Ships (Fragile and beautiful; keep them out of reach of small children.)
  • Movie Concept Art
  • Movie Posters (I'm most fond of the posters from the 1980s.)
  • Movie Props (memorabilia used in the film)
  • Movie and TV Scripts (the original shooting scripts)
  • Mortars and Pestles
  • Motorcycles (a great hobby if you have the space and the money)
  • Mug Shots

People collect odd things, and most of those things can be bought on ebay. Strange and unexpected collection ideas await below.

  • Nails (Many old nails can be pulled from old buildings that have fallen, just make sure you have permission to do it.)
  • Native American Headdresses
  • Newspapers
  • NFL Memorabilia (Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys, etc.)
  • Ninja Weapons
  • Nutcrackers
  • Oil Cans (Cans that are intact, in good shape and unopened are extremely desirable, though quite rare.)
  • Olympic Medals (easier to collect than you might imagine)
  • Original Animation Production Cels
  • Original Comic Book Art (Original cover art for popular or key issues go for big bucks; splash pages of key scenes within the comic are also desirable.)
  • Ouija Boards (and planchettes)
  • Pacifiers (they make some weird ones nowadays)
  • Paintings (Dali, Rockwell, Picasso, etc.)
  • Paperweights (Even the ordinary looking ones can be worth money.)
  • Pencils
  • Pencil Sharpeners and / or Dispensers
  • Pepsi Merchandise
  • Perfume Bottles
  • PEZ Candy Dispensers
  • Photographs (Handle your vintage photographs as little as possible. You might want to make photocopies so you can view them regularly without having to take them out.)
  • Pianos
  • Picture Frames
  • Pinball Machines
  • Playing Cards
  • Pocket Knives
  • Pots and Cauldrons
  • Pottery
  • Portholes
  • Postcards (The practice of collecting postcards is called deltiology.)

Some Things That Are Not So Easy To Collect - But that doesn't mean you can't entertain the thought anyway, right?

  • Miniature living dinosaurs.
  • Imagine being able to keep a star in a jar.
  • The bones of famous people. A leg bone would look good up on a wall.
  • Time (which you can use when you need to).

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  • Propellers
  • Puppets
  • Purses
  • Puzzles
  • Quilts
  • Radios
  • Rare Fish (living in a tank)
  • Recipe Books
  • Restaurant Menus (from places that are no longer around)
  • Rock and Mineral Specimens
  • Rubber Ducks
  • Saddles
  • Safes
  • Salt and Pepper Shakers
  • Sand (from famous beaches)
  • Saxophones
  • Scales
  • Seashells (The optimal times to collect shells off of a beach are at low tide or after big storms, such as hurricanes.)
  • Sewing Machines
  • Sextants
  • Sheet Music
  • Shields
  • Shoes
  • Shot Glasses

  • Shrunken Heads
  • Signs (porcelain, tin, neon, etc.)
  • Skateboards
  • Skulls (You've got to choose between real and manufactured.)
  • Sleds
  • Slot Cars
  • Snowflakes
  • Snow Globes (Globes featuring hard to reach or abandoned places are highly sought after.)
  • Snuff Boxes
  • Spectacles or Reading Glasses
  • Spools of Thread
  • Spoons
  • Stamps (A hobby that can be as cheap or expensive as you want.)
  • Staplers
  • Stock Certificates
  • Street Signs
  • Straight Razors
  • Stuffed Animals (taxidermy)
  • Sundials
  • Sunglasses
  • Super Bowl Rings (More affordable than you might think unless you want a ring that belonged to a star player. The best advice is to buy from a trustworthy source.)
  • Surfboards
  • Swizzle Sticks
  • Swords (antique, not reproductions)
  • Tarot Cards
  • Tattoos
  • Teddy Bears
  • Teeth (human and animal)
  • Telescopes
  • Telegraphs
  • Thermometers
  • Thimbles (sewing)
  • Thumbscrews
  • Ticket Stubs
  • Ties
  • Tiffany (lamps, jewelry, etc.)
  • Tiles (Some people like to make whole walls out of different types and kinds of tile.)
  • Toasters
  • Tombstones / Headstones
  • Toothbrushes
  • Tooth Extractors
  • Totem Poles
  • Tractors
  • Travel Stickers (These are all about collecting experiences.)
  • Troll Dolls (A toy from the 70’s.)
  • Trumpets
  • T-Shirts (The rubber-like surface on many vintage t-shirts is easily damaged and can stick to other surfaces. Many collectors sprinkle their most prized possessions with talcum powder to avoid the sticking issue.)
  • Typewriters

What People Want - Collectibles They Can Show Off - Premium, limited edition statues fit the description perfectly.

I have a friend of mine who has a whole side of his wall lined with beautiful glass box cases. What makes go over to the wall every time I visit are the amazing statues that he shows off in them. He gets a lot of them from Sideshow, which is a leader in these kinds of limited edition collectibles.

  • Valve Handles
  • Vampire Hunting Kits
  • Venom (does it solidify over time, I wonder)
  • VHS Tapes (There are a lot of movies out there that are no where to be found but on VHS. These movies can fetch lots of green by people who collect them. Look for banned or discontinued movies such as Disney's Song of the South, low budget horror films or Golden Age wrestling tapes from the 80's.)
  • Video Games (Some of the older games are quite collectible and can still be played as long as you have the game system to play them on. The first old game I payed a lot for was Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2 for the PS2; I paid $40 for it. A great game from my youth.
  • Vintage Labels (whiskey, food, medicine, etc.)
  • Vintage Suitcases
  • Vintage Toy Boxes (Empty boxes of highly sought after toys such as Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, etc. can be sold for big bucks by collectors who don't have a box to put the toys they have in. A box can double or triple the price on some toys, so never pass up a reasonably priced empty box.)
  • Vinyl Records
  • Violins
  • Voodoo Memorabilia
  • Waffle Irons (Even the old ones can still make excellent waffles.)
  • Wagons
  • Walking Sticks
  • Wallets
  • Wall Outlet Covers (decorative)
  • Wallpaper
  • Wall Sconces
  • Wands (Harry Potter movie replica wands are available.)
  • Wanted Posters (Very cool, but beware of reproductions.)
  • Washing Machines
  • Wasps (real and ceramic)
  • Watches (You’re not going to have an investment-grade watch unless you’re willing to spend $6,000 to $10,000.)
  • Water (from famous rivers or lakes)
  • Water Goblets
  • Watermelon Collectibles
  • Watering Cans

Collecting Original Comic Book Artwork

  • Water Nozzles (gardening hoses)
  • Weathervanes (Keep a lookout for any shiny or unworn metal work, especially inside a hollow form. Forgers have gotten really good at copying patinas on older pieces by using chemical means.)
  • Wedding Dresses
  • Werewolf Art
  • Wetsuits
  • Whale Calls
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Wheelchairs
  • Wheels
  • Whips
  • Whirlers
  • Whiskey Labels
  • Whistles
  • Wiccan Paraphernalia or Witch Stuff
  • Wicker Furniture
  • Wigs
  • Wildflowers
  • Winches
  • Wind Chimes
  • Windmills
  • Wine
  • Wishes
  • Wolf Figurines
  • Wooden Barrels (The kind that distilleries use to age their spirits.)
  • Wooden Beams (railroad, barn, etc.)
  • Wrappers
  • Wreaths
  • Wrenches
  • Wrestling Memorabilia
  • Wristbands
  • Yard Sticks
  • Yellow Things (collections based solely on one color)
  • Yokes
  • Yo-Yos (Most can still be played with no matter how old they are.)
  • Zany Things
  • Zebra Statues
  • Zippers
  • Zippo Lighters (They produce Zippos with all kinds of designs on them nowadays, which make them quite collectible.)
  • Zodiac Related Objects
  • Zombie Statues or Toys
  • Zoo Warning Signs

Wondering what kind of things I like to collect? I like to collect Walt Disney stuff, one of the most popular collectibles around.

The list of weird things to collect are endless, but there are plenty of ordinary and popular items that lots of people like to collect and I fall into that category. I first started collecting Disney stuff back when me and my niece started watching the movies together on a regular basis. I would buy something for her and then buy a more expensive collectible for my collection. As she's grown older she has began to buy me things as well. We both have a lot of fun doing it, and as a result, both of us have quite a collection.

Disney Pin Trading

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Don

    Do You Know Of Any Strange Or Fun Things To Collect Not Found Above? - If you do, then share them with the world. Just keep it on the tame side.

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        Antonio 2 weeks ago

        I collect toys, autographs airline plane models, reusable bags, all types of cans and bottles, airline memorabilia, books, etc etc

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        Sona 6 months ago

        I got so many ideas so I am confused which collection should I keep

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 months ago

        Coins

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        Angel 8 months ago

        I collect necklaces, rings, stuffed cows, candles, cookbooks, and notebooks. There's probably more, but I can't think of any at the moment ^^;;

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        Pressed Penny Man 9 months ago

        I collect elongated coins aka pressed pennies, I currently have over 1400 from every U.S. state and over 20 countries. ( Such as Bulgaria, Taiwan, Spain, Guam,Australia, Ireland, Aruba, etc.) Its a fun hobby and its not very expensive.

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        Unnatirana5 10 months ago

        i like to make lucky paper stars you can make and collect those..watch how to make it on youtube..its so cuteee...

      • profile image

        Klapkey 14 months ago

        Some of these choices are downright weird!! :0

      • profile image

        Tyler 15 months ago

        I collect plastic produce bags... That's normal(Don't judge, we all do something weird...)

      • profile image

        anonymous 3 years ago

        Awesome sight! I got so many ideas. One thing I thought should be added was antique pocket watches.

      • profile image

        anonymous 3 years ago

        preserved animal claws

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        Sandman 3 years ago

        I know someone who buys those Sideshow Collectibles Superhero Statues, holds on to 'em for a couple of years and then resales them on ebay for about double or triple what he paid. He's got one wall with nothing but a glass shelf where he keeps them.

      • ControlledChaos1 profile image
        Author

        Don 4 years ago from Tennessee

        @anonymous: I actually saw a very old box of tea at an antique shop the other day back from the 1960s, I think. The colors and artwork were amazing. I can totally see the appeal in collecting such things. Do you break down and flatten out your box or keep it in box form?

      • Tricia Deed profile image

        Tricia Deed 4 years ago from Orlando, Florida

        Collecting things is a very inexpensive hobby. You did a good job introducing people to collecting ideas.

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        Smoking paraphernalia is my game and I'm not talking about cigars or cigarettes. Pooof!

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        empty tea boxes? No? just me?

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        @anonymous: I'm a big fan of illustrated travel posters. They're some really cool ones out there.

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        anonymous 4 years ago

        The illustrated movie posters definitely look better framed on a wall. The ones they make nowadays, excluding the limited edition companies like Mondo, will never be highly collectible in my opinion. The reason is simple - they don't look good on a wall.

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        anonymous 5 years ago

        I would think if you're gonna collect celebrity hair, you need some DNA test papers to go along with it (for authenticity).

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        I was a huge comic book collector back in the day.

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        I have a cousin who collects potato chip bags (empty of course). He has some all the way back to the 70's.

        He even has a couple framed.

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